Any parent knows that advocating for a child’s education is no simple task. It’s something parents must learn to do, yet it can be difficult to know where to find resources to support a child’s development.
Finding Hope Despite Uncertainty
Diana, a mother of two from Riverside, Calif., was once in this same boat. Her second daughter, Emevily, was born prematurely at 26 weeks and spent 70 days in the NICU. This was an incredibly stressful time for Diana.
She felt her life was collapsing and had no idea what to do. One day, she woke up and decided that sadness and tears weren’t the answer. She took action and began looking for resources to help her child.
In June 2022, Diana and her family moved to Arizona. She was looking for a preschool for her older daughter, Valerie, as well as a program that would benefit Emevily.
Head Start Helps Parents Advocate for Children
When she was completing an application for Catholic Charities Westside Head Start (WSHS), the Family Service Specialist told Diana about Early Head Start (EHS). WSHS provides comprehensive, year-round childhood education to kids ages three to five, using the holistic approach of working with the whole family. EHS, on the other hand, serves children up to age three, mainly through a home based visitor.
Diana thought EHS would be great for Emevily and filled out an application. She says it was the best decision she ever made. Diana has learned parenting strategies that she implements every day, and she and her daughter have received quality resources from behavioral specialists.
“I am forever grateful for them and for teacher Jonetta, who has been very helpful and has made my journey with Emevily 100 times better. I have learned a lot more than I expected, but most importantly, I have learned how to be the best teacher for my daughter,” Diana adds.
As a child, Diana had a single mom who worked three jobs to provide for the family and didn’t have much time to help her kids. Diana says it’s been a blessing to be able to work one-on-one with her daughter.
Discovering a Supportive Community
Being a part of the program has opened Diana up to a community of like-minded parents. She has gotten involved in WSHS’s Parent Committee, serving as the Vice Chairperson. She also sits on the board of the WSHS policy council.
This experience has pushed Diana to focus on achieving her own goals. Her dream is to go to school for early education and become a home based visitor.
“I strongly recommend that if you have the opportunity to sign up your child [for] Early Head Start or Head Start, you take the opportunity to get involved as much as you can. Because to me, my experience with Catholic Charities Westside Head Start has been life-changing!” says Diana.
One way our Head Start programs assist parents and kids is by providing items such as school supplies. If you’d like to support our families, consider donating needed items through our Amazon Charity List.